“You shouldn’t talk too much in front of a painting. It’s alive and, like a child,
the slightest slip might wound it!”
Here we witness vital characteristics of Buffet’s work: Expressionist manner; the darkly outlined, solitary, elongated figure; deep, earthy colors.
Buffet, an etcher, painter, lithographer, designer and sculptor, focused his attention primarily upon portraits, still lifes, landscapes and religious scenes.
Maurice Druon comments upon Buffet’s artistic practice and attitude; ““Excess marks all his enterprises; it is as if the tour de force was a habit with him, work the necessity of every instant, and immoderation his dimension.”
Annabel and Bernard Buffet
It is a delight to behold the images of an artist at work in his studio; Buffet’s late wife, Annabel, co-authored a book entitled Bernard Buffet: The Secret Studio. Here we witness, in the words of Druon, “His colors… distributed in heaped fascines of new paint-brushes, while the used accumulate in a corner like bayonets recovered from a victorious battlefield; the cigarette-ends fill copper pails; and the rags form variegated mounds.
These signs of work, these accessories and offals bear witness to the importance of the work itself” (Druon 27). Here in his studio we view gigantic, rather macabre, grasshoppers, chrysalis, and butterflies—his sculptural works from the show Le Museum de Bernard Buffet (“Bernard Buffet’s History Museum”), the lean, brutal, heavily outlined matadors, for which Annabel modeled (Buffet: “I view the Torero as a noble, hard-fighting animal—the king of beasts”), and an enormous crucifix he fashioned for the chapel at Chateau l’Arc (46-59, 66-88).
Buffet’s art, too, can be read through the lens of the art socio-historical; “It [his work] seemed to express the existential alienation and spiritual solitude of the post-war generation” (Chilvers Oxford). Indeed, Buffet joined L’Homme Temoin (Group of Social Realist Painters), founded by his cohort Bernard Lorjou, which “attempted to preserve something of a great and humane tradition in a world of shifting values” (Morand 187). The members celebrated figurative painting and despised the abstract in art, yet Buffet perhaps remained rather apolitical compared to his fellow members, and tended to have a more hermetic approach to art practice.
While Lorjou produced a grand work entitled The Atomic Age, Buffet remarked later, “The atomic age, the trip to the moon, and abstract art will never make a jot of difference to what I call ‘Painting’” (Buffet 100).
To schedule a visit to view the striking Buffet print, and to view Lorjou's L’Offrande, the masterpiece of fellow L’Homme Temoin member Bernard Lorjou, please do call (312) 814-8510 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written and researched by Jessica Savitz
Principal Appraiser & Director: Farhad Radfar, ISA, AM
307 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 308
Chicago, IL 60601
Phone: (312) 814-8510
Buffet, Annabel and Lamy, Jean-Claude. Bernard Buffet: The Secret Studio. Paris: Flammarion, 2004.
Chiver, Ian. "Buffet, Bernard" The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists. Oxford University Press 2009. Oxford Reference Online. University of Chicago. 3 January 2010.
Druon, Maurice. Bernard Buffet. New York: October House, 1966.
Morand, Kathleen. French Painting in the Time of Jean De Berry. “Post-War Trends in the ‘Ecole de Paris.’” New York: Pahidon, 1991.